Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Must Be Involved in Iraq, but Not Necessarily in a Combat Role: Trudeau

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Must Be Involved in Iraq, but Not Necessarily in a Combat Role: Trudeau

Article excerpt

Look at all options in Iraq crisis: Trudeau


OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper is playing political games with the lives of Canadian soldiers as he prepares to send them to war against Islamic extremists in Iraq, Justin Trudeau charged Thursday.

The Liberal leader said Harper has made no attempt to justify a combat mission or to foster an all-party consensus on the issue.

Indeed, Trudeau said the prime minister seems to relish casting himself as the lone, macho, tough guy among federal leaders.

"Unlike prime ministers for decades before him, Mr. Harper has made no effort to build a non-partisan case for war," Trudeau told a conference hosted by Canada2020, a progressive think tank.

"Instead, he dares us to oppose his war, staking out not moral territory but political territory."

Trudeau said he hasn't yet decided whether Liberals will support a combat mission, but made it clear his inclination is to have Canada stick to a non-combat role in the U.S.-led fight against the militant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

"Why aren't we talking more about the kind of humanitarian aid that Canada can and must be engaged in, rather than trying to whip out our CF-18s and show them how big they are? It just doesn't work like that in Canada."

Harper is expected to announce Friday that Canada will deploy CF-18 fighter jets to take part in air strikes against the militants in Iraq.

Conservatives quickly struck back at Trudeau's comments.

"Mr. Trudeau's comments are disrespectful of the Canadian Armed Forces and make light of a serious issue," said Jason MacDonald, the prime minister's spokesman.

"Our involvement in the fight against ISIL is, and has been, motivated by a desire to do our part in fighting a group that has made direct terrorist threats against Canada and Canadians, in addition to carrying out atrocities against children, women, and men in the region. As the prime minister has said, we take that seriously and will do our part."

Contrary to Trudeau's contention, MacDonald said Canada already ranks as one of the most generous humanitarian aid donors in Iraq.

Employment Minister Jason Kenney said making a "juvenile high school joke" about the global campaign to combat a "genocidal terrorist organization" raises more questions about Trudeau's judgment. …

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